Staples & Specialities
Starchy carbohydrates play a big part in Pacific diets. Traditional Fijian foods include tavioka (cassava) and dalo (taro) roots, boiled or baked fish, and seafood in lolo (coconut cream). Meat is usually fried and accompanied with dalo and rourou (boiled dalo leaves in lolo), though you’ll often find the colossally popular corned beef substituting for the real thing. Kokoda is a popular dish made of raw fish marinated in lolo and lime juice, with a spicy kick.
A lovo is a traditional indigenous Fijian banquet where food is prepared in an underground oven. A hole is dug in the ground and stones are put inside and heated by an open fire. The food – whole chickens, legs of pork, fragrant stuffed palusami (meat or corned beef, onions and lolo) or dalo – is wrapped in banana leaves and slowly half baked and half steamed on top of the hot stones. Delicious! Traditionally, lovo is served for family get-togethers as well as for more formal occasions, such as church festivals and funerals. Lots of resorts offer a weekly lovo for guests.
Indo-Fijian dishes are usually spicy, and a typical meal comprises meat (but never beef or pork, which are avoided by Hindus and Muslims, respectively), curry with rice, dhal (lentil soup) and roti (a type of Indian flat bread). Chinese food is generally a Western-style takeaway affair with stir-fries, fried rice, chop suey, chow mein and noodle soups.
Fiji's most famous drink is yaqona (kava), followed by the internationally-branded Fiji Water, a mineral water sourced from a deep aquifer in northeast Viti Levu. Fiji's rainy, mountainous terrain also makes it ideal country for growing coffee – look out for the rich, dark blends from Bula Coffee.
Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter are the country's two leading beers. Despite the latter's name, both are lagers, as is the premium Vonu brand. Local rum is also freely available, originally produced as a by-product from the sugar industry. Refreshing coconut water is widely available, especially in markets where vendors just slice off the top of a nut. If you've got a sweet tooth, look out for freshly squeezed sugar-cane juice or pineapple juice.
Every large town in Fiji has a fresh fruit-and-vegetable market and at least one supermarket where you can buy basic groceries. Those like the central market in Suva are visitor attractions in themselves, with stalls piled high with fresh produce, and areas reserved for bundles of yaqona roots and sacks of aromatic spices. Most villages have a small shop but, since villagers grow their own fresh produce, stock is often limited to items such as tinned fish, corned beef and packets of instant noodles.
If your accommodation has cooking facilities, it will generally sell (very) basic supplies, but you’ll be better off stocking up in town.
There are plenty of cheap restaurants in Fijian towns, serving a mix of Indian and Chinese cuisine, although Western fast food and takeaway baked goods like pies are also popular. Only in Suva, Nadi and Denarau (and resort restaurants) will you generally find great variety in types of cuisine being offered, from Italian and Japanese to contemporary fusion takes on Fijian dishes. It's also common for resorts offer a weekly lovo night, with a traditional Fijian buffet. Many Indo-Fijians are strict vegetarians, so there are usually plenty of veggie options available.
Dinner is usually taken early. In smaller towns many restaurants close by 9pm.